Each NFL team plays 16 regular season games, and because this is considerably less than the other major sports it is a given that each contest means more.
Just the same, I still have a hard time excusing the over-reactionary nature of basically everyone that covers the sport on a week to week basis. In one week Peyton Manning went from MVP candidate to noodle arm Ned and people are talking about the Aaron Hernandez injury as if it changes the entire dynamic of the Patriots offense. This just in: he’s not even the best tight end on the team. But another hilarious premise that is slowly floating its way up the blogosphere is that Matt Ryan, who leads the league in passer rating through two games, is now an elite quarterback.
I’d like to take a second to give a brief fuck you to Eli Manning for starting all of this elite nonsense. When a reporter asked him if he was elite, all he had to do was say, “I don’t even know what that means” (no one does) and maybe the way we talk about quarterbacks would be even a fraction of a percent more reasonable. Let’s take a look at a dictionary definition of the word: “A group of people considered to be the best in a particular society or category, esp. because of their power, or talent.” This isn’t a club that everyone gets to be a part of. The top five quarterbacks in football can’t turn into a list of thirteen guys. There is the VIP room, and then there is guys like Romo and Flacco standing just outside of it wondering if they can slip the bouncer a twenty.
When the year started all I heard about Matt Ryan was, “He is a solid QB who has done very well in the regular season, now we need to see if he can take the next step.” It seems perfectly logical that after two September games against teams that might very well end up missing the playoffs we need to start asking this ridiculous elite question already. OH WAIT NO IT DOESN’T. Matt Ryan has won games before, in fact he has won a bunch of them. In the first four years of his career he won 43 games, a club record. He has played well, too. Last season he threw 29 touchdowns to only 12 interceptions. All of this is very impressive, but it doesn’t get to the heart of people’s issue with “Matty Ice”. I am not here to say that he won’t become one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but why can’t we just wait? If you had a friend who made a sandwich that tasted great but it gave you diarrhea the first four times you ate it, and then you had the sandwich again for the fifth time…would you be stoked that it tasted good? Or would you be concerned that you might shit yourself and proceed with caution? (Nate will be glad I compared anything Falcons related to poop.)
I am not a fan of the “playoff results trump everything” mindset that some have, but he needs to win at least one playoff game before all of this talk is anything but noise.